Friday, August 31, 2007
A's latest thing is breaking away from me on walks and running up to strangers' houses. I think she knows that I find it embarrassing to pull her off the doorstep of some oogy neighbor's house, while the oogy neighbor watches the whole scene through the window.
If you've ever had a runner, you know that there is not much you can do about it. Ignoring it doesn't work. If you let your kid run and pretend you aren't upset by it . . . well, you don't even want to think about what can happen. If you run after said kid, said kid thinks it's hilarious and will do it again on subsequent outings. Time-outs don't seem to work for this problem either. Threats of a spanking don't work (we don't spank our daughter - we only threaten it, and she knows it, unfortunately). I've also tried telling her that if she runs away she might get hit by a car and then she would get a big owie. Then she says, "Get a big owie on my heinie!" (I know, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me either.) It's not that big a deal if she runs off on walks but she also runs off at the doctor's office, in the mall, at restaurants . . . you get the idea.
In November I am taking the short one to Virginia. Just the two of us. This means lugging bags through crowded airports. This means tantrums. This means running any chance she gets. I am seriously concerned about her safety.
So, I am thinking of buying one of these Eddie Bauer Harness Buddies:
If this doesn't work, there's always hog-tying.
Edited to add: My other half thinks buying a harness is the worst idea ever because, and I quote: "she should just listen." Uh-huh. Because two-year-olds are good at that. I should also add that he may not fully understand the challenge I am facing because HE HAS NEVER TAKEN HER ANYWHERE BY HIMSELF. 'Nuff said.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Her father had made some kind of effort to clean everything up so I mopped and then started Shout maneuvers on the shirt she had been wearing. He then gave her a bath (normally this is my job but he is doing penance for his trip to Las Vegas). I called my mom and held the phone up to A. "I drank surryup!" she announced proudly. A then resumed wading about in the tub (you may remember from a previous entry that she has vowed never to sit down in the tub), letting out some ominous farts as she did so. We thought something awful was coming but so far it hasn't arrived. (Unless it arrives while she is at daycare today, which would be SWEET!)
On an unrelated note, I found out last week that our state has enacted new requirements for people who want to adopt a child. 18 hours of education are now required! I am so glad we dodged that bullet. I think the requirement is just ridiculous. The classes do not cover basic childcare stuff (as far as I know) but focus more on things like "loss in adoption" and "using appropriate language in adoption." My beef is: why make it even HARDER to adopt? In order to adopt our daughter we had to:
- Fill out a mountain of paperwork
- Get physical exams (DH's doctor listened to his heart and then patted him on the back while my doctor violated me six ways to Sunday before signing off on the required form)
- Get personal reference letters from friends
- Complete a criminal background check
- Fill out more mountains of paperwork
- Assemble a biography/scrapbook and produce extra copies of it
- Complete interviews with a social worker
- Host a homestudy visit from a social worker
- Pay lots and lots of money
And all that was done before we even met A's birthmother! I just think the education requirement is a little bit over the top. The average adoptive parent is college educated. The other parents I know are like me - if I need information I'll get it. I have a stack of books about babies and some of them are adoption-specific. While we are not trying to sweep the fact that A is adopted under the rug, we also choose not to focus on her adoptedness (is that a word)? She'll have questions and we'll answer them. And if we don't know, we'll get help. I don't want anyone forcing me to take classes on topics I *might* need to know at some point.
I just think it's unfortunate that adoption is getting harder. My 8-year-old niece was just aghast when she found out that it actually costs money to adopt ("What if you are adopting twins - do they charge you double????") Everything we went through was certainly worth it to us, but I wonder how many will throw in the towel because it just gets to be too much. It makes me sad to think of all the waiting moms and dads who would give just about anything to have a syrup-guzzling, rotini smashing, farting two-year-old to love.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Today is the fourth day of "mommy and me" togetherness while P is in Vegas. I am gaining a whole new respect for single parents. Ever since A was born, the division of labor has remained much the same: I keep her alive from day to day and he . . . plays with her. Keeping her occupied, however, is no small feat and I don't want to downplay his contribution at all. I mean, there's something to be said for his ability to sit on his ass and make block towers with the kid while I do 14,000 loads of laundry and mop the floor - at the same time.
Last night I decided to take her to Red Robin for dinner. Tragically, the host sat a couple who appeared to be on a date right next to us. After spending 40 minutes sitting so close to my kid I predict that they either a) broke up in the parking lot or b) agreed to stay together but vowed never to reproduce. A was in rare form. She started out okay but it was all downhill from there (or maybe uphill is a better description?). She threw her crayons (how precious!) and spilled her milk. By the end she was yelling, "NO! DON'T WANT IT!" no matter what I said. On our way out the staff rewarded her hellatious behavior with a balloon, of course. "WANT A BLUE ONE!" Later I pulled the dinner receipt out of my wallet and realized that I took the wrong copy. My brain stopped working properly as of May 2005, that's all I can say. I used to be an organized person . . .
Back at home I gave her a Scooby Doo push-up ice cream pop (actually I think it's sherbet) which kept her occupied for all of 8 minutes and caused a mess of epic proportions. I then put her in the tub and began the countdown to bedtime. The problem was that time refused to get on with it already. I looked at the clock: 7:32, 7:32, 7:32, ah! 7:33!
Bathtime is extra fun these days because she has decided not to sit down in the tub - ever. She mills around in the water and yells things like "I WASH MY GYNA!" Somehow I got her hosed off and into her pajamas. Mercifully, 8 p.m. finally arrived and I all but skipped to the crib with my still-wet kid. For the next hour she instituted some sort of elaborate book swap where I was expected to come back every 3.8 seconds and give her a different book. "NO, NOT THAT ONE! THAT ONE!" "This one?" "No." "This one?" "No."
Today started off with a bang. There was a tantrum within the first 30 seconds. I'm still not sure what it was about. Then, because I am clinically insane, I decided to take her shopping to get some shoes for Fall. Oh yes, I did. The shoe store experience was so nightmarish that I think I've blocked most of it out. I remember one of those slidey things on her foot (twice). I remember saying things like "If you don't sit down right now you are getting time-out and I am not kidding." I left with a bag. I either got two pairs of toddler shoes or some men's slippers. It's hard to say.
Then, because I have a death wish, I decided to take her to the Gap outlet. Oh yes, I did. I had a coupon but it was only good if I spent a certain amount. So I hurried around throwing stuff over my arm (trying in vain to do the math because I was going to get my 20% off come hell or high water) and crabbing at my kid all the while. "See that lady over there? She wants you to sit down in your stroller. She is getting really mad. Look at her. She's furious."
At some point A says, "Where's Doggie?" Doggie is a stuffed toy she has had since birth. I knew it was a bad idea to bring him. "I don't know, where is he?" "I threw him on the floor." Sa-weet! I spent 10-15 minutes looking for doggie and finally saw him on the front counter. Some kind-hearted Gap shopper had turned him in. Crisis over. I stopped outside Lands End to look at a rack and A shouted, "Big trouble with the mama!" to some random lady who was passing by. (Apparently I had whispered "You are in big trouble" one too many times.)
Finally, I took my kid (and what was left of my soul) and headed to a food court for lunch. Oh yes, I did. It actually went slightly better than expected, with only a few random threats tossed out here and there.
Right now she is in her crib. I don't care if she sleeps or not - she gets to stay in that crib until my sanity is restored. By the end of the shopping excursion I was very close to "rocking and humming to myself" mode.
When her father returns from Vegas I will just have a few words for him as I hand her over: "Congratulations, Mr. M! It's a girl!"
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
My other half is leaving for Vegas tomorrow morning so it'll be just me and the kid for 5 days. I normally do all the day-to-day care stuff, so that's fine. But just keeping her occupied by myself for that long is going to be challenging. For starters, the kid talks too much.
I saw this t-shirt and seriously considered getting it for A:
The kid literally does not take a breath. She talks from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (we put her to bed at 8 but she talks to herself for another hour after that). The other day I took her to the doctor's office after I became concerned about a possible urinary tract infection. Our regular doctor wasn't available so we saw a Nurse Practitioner, who had never met my daughter. After a few minutes the NP looked down at A's file and said, "Did she really just turn 2 in May?" I confirmed that indeed, the kid is only 2. I know this makes me sound like a braggy mom but the NP was blown away by A's vocabulary and articulation. The whole time we were there I had to concentrate extra hard to hear what the NP was saying because in my right ear all I could hear was: "I have a sticker. I'm very very sick. This is my juice. Is this my cup? Mmmmmmm, apple juice. Look at this book. Awwww, a fox! It's very very cute! It's not cold; it's very very hot. This is my purse. Mama, is this my purse?" And so on it went.
The NP thinks that A is destined for a career on the stage, which has crossed my mind as well. She is already a legend in her own mind, as the saying goes. Yesterday I was in her room, putting some laundry away, when she came down the hallway, stopped in the doorway and announced, "A is coming." I think it was one of those deals like with celebrities who want you to avert your eyes when they enter the room. Either that, or I was expected to bow deeply or curtsy or something. Regardless, I was expected to acknowledge that she had entered the room. When we are out on walks she will announce "I'm going to wave" or "I'm going to say hi" when she sees people heading towards us on the street. I'm sure she thinks they are very lucky that she has agreed to greet them.
I feel a little guilty for kvetching about how much my kid talks, because I know several moms who are dealing with things like speech therapy for their kids. In truth, I'm really proud of my baby girl! I just find myself wondering . . . if she's 2 and can't stop talking . . . what will she be like at 13??????
Friday, August 17, 2007
Here is the kind of week I had:
- We decided to test Gideon, our Boxer, to see if he could be trusted out of his crate. We put up a baby gate to restrict his access. First day, fine. Second day, not so fine. I came home to see the custom blinds in my front window totally destroyed. I'm not even sure a grown man could bend them to that extent. The little moron starts more obedience classes next week. Oh, did I forget to add that he beheaded an Elmo toy while he was on his little rampage?
- The kid asked me "why" for the first time. I think you'll agree that this is the beginning of the end (of my sanity). Up until now she has been content simply to disobey all orders and requests ("Would you please pick up your toys?" "No, Mama.") And now she needs to call into question their very merit by asking why? Oy.
- My big black dog, Karl, is blowing his coat. I don't know what kind of dog he is, but he's double-coated. Double-coated breeds lose their undercoat periodically. Instead of losing the hairs one by one, he loses them seasonally, in big chunks. So, I have been picking up chunks of Karl all week and vacuuming like a madwoman. I brush him nightly and each night I walk away with a pile of fur big enough to make a whole other dog.
- All week I've been eating as though the apocalypse is upon us. So no, I won't be going to Weight Watchers tomorrow. Instead, I will be going to the county fair to add insult to injury.
- The kid finally figured out the doorknobs in our house. She was headed down the basement stairs when we caught up to her. So now we have to use those stupid doorknob covers. You know, the ones that grown-ups can't figure out either.
The good news is that I have two, yes two, unopened bottles of wine on my wine rack. And like I said, it IS Friday . . .
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
My name has been passed down in my family for several generations (from a great-grandfather named Claude to my grandmother to me). It's a classic Latin name. To spell it with a K is to spark the downfall of civilization.
If you've never visited the classic site "Baby's Named a Bad Bad Thing (a Primer on Parent Cruelty)," you gotta check it out: http://notwithoutmyhandbag.com/babynames/
There is nothing I can say about the recent trend towards saddling kids with unspellable, unpronounceable, ridiculous names that hasn't already been said on that site. It's a fun read.
I thought long and hard about the name I gave my daughter. I ended up choosing a feminine name that has been around for a long time, and I went with the traditional spelling. Other names I considered were Eliza and Evelyn. Someday, when she is older, she'll be sitting in the waiting room at her doctor's office and when the nurse calls her name she'll recognize her own name and respond accordingly. The poor nurse doesn't have to stand there and stumble over Mykinzieh or some crap.
I feel sorry for teachers, too. Holy cow, I don't know how they can say some of these names with a straight face. I visit a parenting message board and I saw one child's name that took me 15 minutes to figure out. I finally sounded it out and realized that it was Kennedy, but it was spelled with lots of C's and Y's and had lots of other consonants in it that didn't belong there. Don't even get me started on the trend of giving last names as first names. Remember in the movie Splash when the mermaid made up her own name? She looked up and saw a street sign. "Madison," she said. See, that was really funny at the time because NOBODY would ever be named Madison, right?
I'm done. Klaudia out.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Last night A and I went downtown to the farmers' market. We got some kettle corn and listened to a local band. This summer I think the two of us have eaten enough kettle corn to choke a horse. She danced on the sidewalk, waving at passersby. She dances like a typical two-year-old, bending at the knees and swinging her arms, curls bouncing all around. I love to watch her dance. I smile, but I also think, "This is the only time she'll ever be two." Of course, that sounds like a stupid thing to say. But, I know it's only a matter of time until she is too cool to dance on the sidewalk and in fact will ask me to drop her off three blocks from her destination because I'm such an embarrassment to her. I fear those days will come long before I am ready for them.
So, we have milked summer for all it was worth. We vacationed in Texas, went to festivals, went swimming, covered the driveway in sidewalk chalk, attended a parade, spent a weekend in the Northwoods, hosted a visit from her cousin, attended a picnic, and took a hundred walks. This weekend we are headed to the state fair. A is old enough to ride the kiddie rides this year, so I know she'll enjoy that. And let's not forget about food on a stick! It's been a fun summer for our little family.
And maybe, just maybe, she will continue to call me "Mama" in public for just a few more years . . .
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Friday, August 3, 2007
Our rescue organization has taken in nearly 500 dogs so I'm sure I am forgetting a lot of them, but a few special cases that come to mind:
Gizzy arrived after being rescued by a young woman who knew that Gizzy was being left outside, tied up. Gizzy was emaciated when we got her. You could see every rib, every vertebra. She was a gentle girl and we sent her to a new foster home (new, as in, this was their first foster dog). Gizzy's foster mom called one of our volunteers in the middle of the night and announced that Gizzy had given birth. There were two pups - one lived and one was stillborn. What little nutrition Gizzy was receiving had clearly gone straight to that one pup. Eventually Gizzy was nursed back to health and found a great new home. But, shortly after being adopted, her back legs began to fail. In time Gizzy could not walk. Her new family did not even hesitate with their course of action. They bought her a wheelchair. Today she is tolerating her wheelchair very well and gets around just fine. She has two brothers - a Boxer and a Bulldog - who look out for her.
And how about the nice family that adopted Wilson? Wilson is not only deaf, he has only THREE legs. Again, I don't know what happens to people in the afterlife but I have to figure that Wilson's family deserves something good. And then there was Remy (pictured at right) who lost one eye in an accident but still found an amazing new home.
Penny came into rescue several years ago. Her family dumped her because they were moving into a new house and they didn't want Penny, who was elderly, to pee on their carpets. When they dropped her off, they patted her on the head and said, "Have fun with the other dogs!" As it turned out, though, Penny didn't really like other dogs that much. Oh, and Penny was chock full of tumors (and hadn't been to the vet since the mid-90s). However, she had the good fortune to move into a foster home whose inhabitants had a soft spot for dogs like Penny. They immediately adopted her. Penny had too many tumors to remove them all, but her new owners had the most bothersome ones removed and did everything within their power to help Penny. I can't imagine what their vet bills must have been like. Penny has passed on now, but the last months of her life were probably the best she had ever known.
Another memorable dog was Toby. Toby had been dumped several times in his young life. This would be tragic for any dog but was particularly hard for Toby, because he suffered from an extreme case of separation anxiety. Each time he was rehomed, the problem got a little worse (probably because his worst fears were realized - his prediction of abandonment had come true time and time again). Toby was a tough one to foster. He would injure himself trying to escape from his crate but if you left him uncrated, he would shred your entire house and all of its contents. Amazingly, a very special family came along and adopted Toby without hesitation. They were willing to work with Toby on his issues. Today he does not even need to be crated when they leave the house, and he doesn't tear anything up. I imagine he must have known somehow that he was home at last.
The rescue has placed many other dogs with special needs. We've placed around a dozen deaf dogs, and there is always a special place in my heart for the people who take on a deafie. We've also placed numerous dogs that suffer from demodectic mange, which is often a chronic condition. Demodex dogs require a lot of special care and it amazes me how many people do not even hesitate to adopt them. And then there are my favorite dogs of all - the old ones. While they often linger in rescue for a long time, we've nonetheless had good luck placing dogs that are 8, 9, 10 and even older. You have to keep in mind that most Boxers only live 10-12 years.
So there you go. After my last post I just didn't want to leave my readers (both of them) with the impression that I am some horrible misanthrope. I am just a hapless volunteer who continues to be puzzled by human nature, I guess. But I wanted to let you know that for every person who doesn't do right by their dog, there is another person who goes far above and beyond. Their mama raised them right.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
What's stuck in my craw today is this particular dog myth: dogs need a home in the country where they can run. Do you know what happens to a lot of dogs "in the country?" They get hit by cars. They may live on a one-lane road where only three cars pass by each day, but those cars will be doing about 75.
I volunteer for Boxer Rescue. Three of our dogs have been hit and killed by cars after placement. All three deaths occurred in rural environments. Adopters sign an adoption agreement whereby they agree to keep the dog on leash, so it's definitely heartbreaking and frustrating when this sort of thing happens. Dogs need to be kept safe. It's not that hard. My Boxer, Gideon, is a sweet boy but he is not exactly working on his PhD in his spare time. He can't figure out how to push open a door that is already partially open. He falls off the bed regularly. It's not his job to worry about his safety - it's mine.
I'd much rather see people not get a dog at all than to get one and then surrender the dog to a shelter or rescue later on. Whenever someone tells me that they are purposely NOT getting a dog because they are too busy, the kids are too young, etc., I literally applaud. You see, as rescue volunteers we are on the receiving end and we see it day after day. "I don't have time" or "He's jealous of the kids" or "He needs more room to run."
So here is some random advice for anyone who is thinking of getting a dog or is thinking of surrendering one:
- If you don't have a fenced yard, you should seriously think twice about getting a dog at all. And don't fool yourself into thinking that you are "going to put up a fence in the spring." We hear that one a lot. Nine times out of ten, people find out that a fence costs hundreds or thousands of dollars and then the whole project goes down the tubes. Oh, and a shrubbery border is not a fence. You'd be surprised how many people believe that it is.
- Don't make the mistake of thinking that dogs understand property boundaries. They don't. It only takes one rabbit and your dog is off like a prom dress.
- Research the breed! If you have kids (or are thinking of reproducing), there are a lot of breeds that are not going to work out for you. Toy breeds, for example, often have trouble tolerating little hands poking at them. And if you get a dog and then have kids, do your part to prepare your dog for the new arrival. Ideally, you should have set boundaries with your dog early on. If you let your dog have the run of the house for five years, don't be surprised that he isn't going to understand that his status is being reduced when the first kid comes along.
- Before you blame your dog for his/her behavior, look at your own. How many classes did you complete with the dog? When a problem arose, did you seek out a trainer? A behaviorist? Did you seek advice from your veterinarian?
- And speaking of training, don't make the mistake of thinking that you're a trainer (unless you are actually certified and can cite this as a source of income.) Our rescue has taken in nearly 500 dogs and I have yet to meet one who wouldn't benefit from some training (preferably positive reinforcement training). Plus, the classes are great for socialization. A lot of times dogs are surrendered to us for issues that could have been fixed through proper training. What, your dog forgot to train himself? Damn dog!
- If you do get rid of your dog, please don't say that you are "doing what's best for him." You are doing what's best for yourself. If you asked your dog, he would say that he prefers to be with his family. While I have worked with some surrendering owners over the years who were legitimately in dire straits and had no choice but to surrender their dog, more often than not the dog has simply become an inconvenience in some way.
- If your dog is a biter, don't get rid of your dog. Do the right thing and have your dog humanely euthanized. Trust me when I say that there is no home on the planet where a dog will never, ever, ever come into contact with a child. You don't want to unleash that kind of liability on someone else.
- And finally, know that if you surrender your dog to a humane society, there is a very good chance that your dog is not going to be adopted (by a "home in the country" or any other type of home for that matter). Our local shelter has a 50% euthanasia rate. Say you surrender your dog to a no-kill shelter. Well, he may spend months or years sitting in a cage, pacing, until finally he loses his mind. I mean, *you* didn't want your dog - what makes you think everyone else is going to want him?
I am done with my rant now. I am not saying that I'm the world's best dog owner. What I am saying is that I've seen too much and it is getting worse. Much worse. Those of us who dedicate our time to animal welfare are drowning in homeless animals. We just want people to think twice before they get an animal. It's not that hard.